USAGE AND CITIZEN PARTICIPATION

CHANGING ARCHITECTURAL PRACTICES

Caroline Dionne, Ph.D. Arch

The main thread of Caroline Dionne’s research consists of a study of user-centered discourse and practices geared towards identifying and assessing the modalities that foster user participation and agency-based spatial productions in the late modern and contemporary context. Focus is on the notion of usage, understood both as a customary practice — grounded in a given spatial configuration — and a mode of producing knowledge and meaning, through language. She concurrently explores the theoretical foundations of a series of key concepts such as agency, affordances, action.

Dionne also engages with a historical and interdisciplinary corpus. Her on-going book project, Made in Usage: Architectural Meaning in Early Lexicography (2014-) examines the place held by architecture and other building trades in the work of early modern lexicographers and literary authors Antoine Furetière (1619-1688) et Samuel Johnson (1709 -1784). The aim is to assess the place of architecture along with building trades in the first dictionaries at the turn of the 18th century. By looking closely at the very foundations of the modern notion of architecture from a linguistic and epistemological perspective, she identifies how usage remains, in that specific context, tied to a process of valuation of architecture and how “good usage” participates to the production of significant architecture. Her book will contribute to the historiographical line of enquiry pertaining to architecture and the act of building: understanding how architecture was defined and classified with regard to other arts, activities and forms of knowledge at the cusp of its modern historiography should in turn open up new ways of thinking about the writing of the history of architecture today.

An overarching theme of Dionne’s project is concerned with processes of knowledge transmission, within the specificities of the architectural design educational context. Questions pertaining to design pedagogy, teaching methods and innovative tools are examined, with the aim to foster the close imbrication sought for in a research-based teaching environment. Findings generated at this level of research serve to progressively develop, amend and restructure teaching curricula.

Lucian Kroll, la Mémé under construction, 1970, a model for participative architecture

 

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